Queen of the South Wiki


Queen of the South Wiki
Queen of the South Wiki
"Life doesn't care about what you want. We don't get to choose."
―Teresa Mendoza, Season 2
"They said prison or death were my only options, but what do they know, I chose life!"
―Teresa Mendoza, Season 5

Teresa Mendoza is the main protagonist of Queen of the South. She is an exceptional survivor. A former money-changer from Sinaloa, she has risen to create and expand her own narcotics cartel, overseeing all cocaine transportation and distribution in Arizona and branching into Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, NYC and Europe.

See Also James and Teresa for a detailed chronology of their relationship.


Teresa was born in Culiacán and grew up in the Siete Gotas neighborhood, which she would later name her brand of tequila after. She was a salesgirl in the Buelna Mercado. She became a money changer at the age of fifteen, and by the age of sixteen she ran her own block2x01. She spent five years as a money changer on Calle Juarez1x02 before becoming Guero's girlfriend.

Her family was murdered by the cartels.


She has long, wavy brown hair and is considered to be very pretty by all who meet her. Teresa has a scar hidden by her hair that she received after being punished by her boss for taking counterfeit bills while she was working in Sinaloa.

Teresa is often seen wearing shirts with three-quarter sleeves. She also keeps a necklace with the patron saint Malverde on it, but does not wear it.1x02

Teresa wears mainly white when she becomes the Queen as this color is supposed to protect her from her enemies.


Teresa is a survivor. She thinks quickly on her feet and does what it takes to make it out alive. Her alter ego, The Queen of the South, often appears to her and gives her advice when she is in dangerous situations, and she almost always follows it.

Teresa is resourceful and uses what every bit of information given to her. She is stubborn1x02 and wants to prove herself to Camila in order to keep herself safe. Teresa is also shown as kind in the way that she deals with children,1x04 and the other mules in the warehouse. She fights for the people she loves, as evidenced by how far she goes to try to protect Tony and Brenda.

Teresa dislikes violence and detests the idea of becoming a violent criminal. There are lines that she doesn't want to cross. She tries to save a man from being killed at a party first by trying to free him then by flashing the headlights of James's car. She is shaken by his death and plans to escape the warehouse. 1x05.

She is good in numbers, observes more, talks less, can analyze a situation, and thinks fast. Teresa sees the big picture and is comfortable taking risks to achieve her goals.

Teresa builds an empire on loyalty, respect and friendship. Her main contribution is the desire to do business in a 'better way, without all this killing". She has James's support and despite many obstacles they are able to achieve her dream for some time.

She doesn't do cocaine and refuses what is offered to her several times. In Season 5 Teresa snorts cocaine to relieve stress.

After Tony's death, Teresa understands that the only way to survive in this life is to be strong and ruthless. Teresa believes that if her operation becomes "too big to fail", she will be protected. Her goal is to become legitimate.


Teresa is good at math and can make calculations in her head. As she was a money changer in Sinaloa for five years, she can tell the difference between real and counterfeit money, which comes in handy when a customer tries to pay them in fake cash.1x03 She speaks both English and Spanish fluently and is very persuasive and can usually talk her way out of situations, making bold deals that leave both parties satisfied. Teresa talks less and listens more; she is reserved in her emotions, however she feels deeply for the people she cares about.


  • James Valdez: James and Teresa save each other's lives many times as they are often paired on missions for Camila. He teaches her skills to survive, talks to her about Camila's traps and supports her when she has difficulties accepting the violence in this life. Teresa and James develop a loyal bond and fall in love with each other slowly over seasons 1 and 2. Teresa has a difficult time accepting her love for James as she suffers the consequences of Guero's betrayal and is unable to trust. James is her forbidden and impossible love, on top of being her soulmate, mentor, friend and business partner. James helps Teresa find her place in the cartel world and become who she really is. Teresa dreams of James kissing her in season 2 despite Guero's recent return. Teresa admits her feelings for James in season 3 when she tells Devon she is ready to die for him. By this time it is also clear James is in love with her as he risks his life for her multiple times and always comes back to her to help and support her. Devon's visit to the winery results in a very emotional exchange that brings them even closer together. Their budding relationship takes a hit after Guero's death, however it gets back on track as they succeed in taking out the competition and their work proves that they are an excellent team. After Teresa, under Pote's influence, suspects James of being the mole that resulted in El Santo's death, James is hurt and prepares to leave her operation.3x11 Teresa recognizes her mistake and begs him to stay. James officially leaves in the season 3 finale in order to protect Teresa, unbeknownst to her. Teresa searches for James for six months after she expands her operation to New Orleans. Upon James's return and recovery from a gut shot wound, Teresa asks him to leave as she wants to protect him from being targeted by her enemies in their attempts to get to her. However, James finds a way to stay by her side and helps her expand her empire despite them not being together and despite his disappointment with the changes she has undergone and the greedy person she has become. Teresa and James have a very strong bond as they are soulmates before they are lovers. They find their way back to each other by the end of season 5. They plan their escape together and are successful in its execution. James is the person who has the most important influence on Teresa's journey and character development. They end up together as they live a different life following what Teresa told him, that they cant be together in this life, but in a different life maybe.
  • Pote Galvez: Her relationship with him is complicated. Pote was present when Gato raped her, and tried to tell Gato to stop, however did nothing else to prevent the rape. Pote owes Teresa his life for saving him when Epifanio turns on his men. Pote stays by her side as her most loyal sicario. Pote goes with her to Malta and they develop a closer relationship. When Pote's hand is mauled, he tells her that he might not be able to shoot, but he can still take a bullet for her. Teresa trusts Pote with her life and has her godson Tony live with him to protect him. After Tony learns that it was Pote that killed his father Chino, Teresa asks Tony to come live with her. Pote remains loyal by Teresa's side and prevents James from leaving in season 5. Pote ends up successfully escaping the biz with Kelly Anne and their daughter Lena after killing Boaz in a knife fight.
  • Guero: Teresa was in a relationship with him for a year and they lived a relatively wealthy lifestyle as Guero was making good money as a pilot for the Vargas cartel. Guero is her first boyfriend who does not abuse her and Teresa genuinely loves him. Teresa is forced to run for her life when Guero is killed. Once Teresa realizes that Guero survived, stole from Epifanio, put her in danger and was the reason for her being raped and assaulted, she is devastated with his recklessness and she tells him their life cannot ever be under his terms. Teresa has made her choice, which is to grow in the biz, and tells him that he needs to make his. Guero helps Teresa establish a contact with a new supplier in Bolivia as well as capture Camila and Epifanio, which meeting results in Epifanio's death. Guero is killed when used as bait to get to Teresa in season 3.
  • Camila Vargas and Teresa have a rather tense relationship. In season 1, Camila protects Teresa because she believes that Teresa has something that Epifanio wants. Camila seems to like Teresa after Teresa proves her loyalty, first by swallowing the cocaine balloons that were prone to bursting,1x02 then by not revealing that she is tied to Camila when she is attacked.1x03 Camila threatens to kill Teresa if she tried to run and that later tries to convince her that she is her real family and will protect her from Epifanio.1x05 Teresa promises her loyalty to Camila, but not her life.2x01 Camila teaches Teresa many things related to the business and plays a crucial part in the formation of the future Queen. After season 2 Camila is set on killing Teresa, because she blames her for the death of her husband. At the final showdown between the two, Teresa sends Camila into exile, but does not have her killed.
  • Kelly Anne: Teresa and Kelly Anne become friends when Kelly Anne warns her of the plot Camila has set up against her. Teresa helps Kelly Anne escape after she murders her husband. Teresa has Kelly Anne take care of Tony and later allows her to join her operation in Phoenix. Kelly Anne uses drugs and after being wine boarded betrays Teresa. Teresa orders her execution, but when it becomes clear that she was spared, Teresa slowly forgives her and lets her back in her circle. Kelly Anne proves her loyalty and becomes the group's lawyer as well as Pote's love interest. She leaves the biz with Teresa and James at the end of the series.
  • Brenda Parra: Her best friend, whom she loves and is protective of. They became friends after meeting through Guero. When Brenda first saw Teresa, she told her husband Chino to come look at her because she's so pretty.1x01
  • Tony: Brenda's son, is her godson. She is shown to care for Tony and plays intermediary between them when they argue after Tony disappears for a few hours. After the death of Brenda, Teresa becomes responsible for the boy and promises him that she'll get them away from this life. She has him live with Pote during the first half of Season 4, up until he learns that Pote killed his father.
  • Boaz Jimenez: Teresa allows Boaz to join her organization and to manage Sinaloa and the corridor and later Miami in an attempt to forge relations and to keep him under control. She never trusts him due to his volatility and huge temper.
  • Javier Jimenez: joins up with Teresa and James late in season 3. He helps recover King George and decides to stay with Teresa after James leaves. Javier makes serious mistakes in season 4 that jeopardize Teresa's business and these end up costing his life.
  • King George: is fond of Teresa and they have a good partnership. Teresa goes to great lengths to recover him after he and Bilal are kidnapped by Cortez. Teresa sends him to Belize to set up an escape estate for all of them. Teresa trusts him explicitly with the details of her operation.
  • Eddie Brucks is a jazz player and after James's disappearance in season 4, Teresa hooks up with Eddie for a short affair. After she is attacked in Nashville, Teresa breaks up with him as she realizes she puts his life in danger.
  • Marcel Dumas: Teresa and Marcel meet in NOLA and go to war over a misunderstanding and several dead bodies on either side. Teresa manages to convince Dumas that their real adversary is Judge Lafayette and they become allies. In season 5 Teresa is forced to hand Dumas to the police for a crime he did not commit and although she gets him out of prison, he is not able to forgive her. Upon Teresa's exit, she leaves him the waterfront property and the funds to complete it as a sign of her true friendship.
  • Judge Lafayette: Teresa learns the Judge owns NOLA very fast and that he is corrupt and mean. She tries to get under his skin many times, allows him to extort her and pays him a lot of money. She is never able to establish a good relationship due to a screw up by Javier of which she finds out too late. The Judge's plot against Teresa takes Tony as collateral damage and makes him an enemy for life. Teresa is working to expose the Judge's corruption when he is killed by Boaz.
  • Oksana: Teresa and Oksana forge a friendship and a business partnership in seasons 4 and 5. They help each other in their dealings with Kostya.
  • Devon Finch: Teresa meets him while working for Camila. He is impressed with her skills and attitude and later when she sets her own operation, and it is revealed that he works for the CIA, Devon backs Teresa's business as he believes it will grow to a level that the CIA can use it for its goals. Teresa knows that he and the CIA were behind El Santo's demise but is shocked to realize that Devon removed James so that their desire to do business in a better way and their feelings for each other do not slow her growth, when in season 5 he demands that they kill Kostya to end the war Boaz has started under his command.

Timeline & Age[]

Age 16 – Teresa gets to lead her corner as a money changer on the streets of Culiacan for 5 years.

  • This is revealed in 1x03 when Teresa shows James the scar on her head from the punishment she took for making a mistake with the boss' money.

Age 21 – Teresa gets picked up by Guero

  • Teresa and Guero live together for 1 year (in the pilot they talk about their first anniversary and right afterwards Guero leaves on the deadly run).
  • On their first Christmas together Guero takes her to the party at the mansion of Epifanio Vargas, his padrino, who is running for Governor of Sinaloa. At this party Chino states that he has a son. Tony is born before Teresa and Guero meet.

Age 22 - Guero is allegedly killed and Teresa ends up in Dallas, in the warehouse of Camila Vargas

  • Season 1 events take place over approximately 3 months as per information in Teresa’s flashbacks about her life with Guero
  • Epifanio wins the Governorship at the end of season 1 and destroys his narco business to prevent Camila from taking it
  • Season 2 events take place over approximately 3 months as well based on information in Teresa’s flashbacks about her life with Guero
  • Season 2 shows Camila and team ending up distributors for El Santo, Teresa and Camila having a fall out over the fake ownership documents for the trawler company, Teresa struggling to make the 2nd weekly payment to El Santo, Teresa killing Epifanio in self-defense, Teresa leaving for Malta where it takes her 6 months to set up her operation

Age 23 -  James joins her operation in Malta

  • Teresa gives up her Malta operation right after James’ return and moves to Phoenix
  • 2 months pass in Phoenix while they set up the winery, the mail order cocaine business and deal with Sheriff Mayo on behalf of La Commission. In 3x05 James says that they have made $30mln for the first month. On the next day in 3x06 when Teresa is kidnapped and taken to Mexcio, where it is revealed that Guero has been imprisoned for 8 months since her departure to Malta.
  • Approximately 4 more months pass after Guero’s death when Teresa and James take over Phoenix, destroy La Commission and run the operation together. In 3x11 Pote says that there are "weeks of recordings" on the bug that Kelly Anne was made to put in James’ room. These 4 months approximately cover Teresa and James living together and running Phoenix togehter, then El Santo’s death, Kelly Anne’s betrayal, Camila setting up Teresa with Reynaldo Fioto, the war against Cortez and James' departure.

Age 24 – Teresa moves her operation to NOLA

  • In 4x01 it is revealed that they have been setting up the operation in NOLA for 6 months and that Teresa has been searching for James all this time.
  • In the following 6 months Teresa develops business relationships with Dumas, El Gordo, Oksana and Kostya. She also manages her ongoing war with Judge Lafayette until James returns to her operation wounded.

Age 25 – James returns to Teresa's operation in NOLA saving her from a kill team

  • In 5x01 George states that James has been gone for 1 year
  • In 5x02 Kelly Anne announces she is pregnant in the first month
  • In 1 months’ time Teresa expands her business to NYC and Europe, Teresa loses George when Boaz declares war and is forced to eliminate Kostya under the demand of the CIA.
  • In 5x09 Kelly Anne is pregnant in the 2nd month, in a few days afterwards in 5x10 Teresa and James put the escape plan in motion.

Age 29 – In 4 years Pote is released from prison and joins Kelly Anne, his daughter Lena, Teresa and James in the beach house in another country where they have lived a quiet life in anticipation of his return.

NOTE: The flashbacks presented in 4x11 where Teresa is seen at Tony’s birth and it is implied that she has lived with Guero for 10 + years till her escape to Dallas when Tony is 12 years of age are a liberty with the timeline taken by the production team of Season 4, which distorts the events as presented chronologically in the series. The producers have acknowledged the mistake and have apologized for it. See Season 4 Media Section.


Quotes from Teresa[]

Quotes about Teresa[]

Notable Injuries and Moments[]

  • Teresa is raped by Gato after Guero's presumed death.1x01
  • Teresa injures her foot after the SUV she and Epifanio are in is thrown off the road. 1x01
  • Teresa kills a person for the first time to protect James's identity. She shoots John Terris dead. He is one of the three brothers from Florida who sees James's face as James's mask is pulled down during the shootout and the ensuing struggle.1x08
  • Teresa is bitten by a scorpion in the desert when James and she are on a mission to blow up Epifanio's tunnel.2x03
  • Teresa is fed a poisonous beetle and is forced to almost overdose on her first visit to Bolivia 6x02
  • Teresa is shot in the leg when she is trying to recover the coke from Lil T's uncle and his gang.2x11
  • Teresa is fed another substance to lower her body temperature and is bombed on her second visit to Bolivia. 3x10
  • Teresa is blown unconscious and has brain swelling when the car bomb that kills Tony explodes.4x11
  • Teresa returns to save James after a failed operation with a risk for her own safety twice - once in the parking garage in Dallas 1x06 and a second time in the dessert. 2x03
  • Teresa shoots and kills Gato, the man who raped her in Culiacan. 1x13
  • Teresa saved Camila's life by delivering her to Agent Loya, DEA. 2x09
  • Teresa rushes to save James when he is captured and tortured by Cortez in Chicago 2x08
  • Teresa saves James's life when she tackles him on the ground and stops him from getting to the van which explodes a second later. 3x08
  • Teresa ensures a doctor operates on James who shows up at her warehouse with a gunshot wound in the middle.5x01


  • In particularly tense situations, Teresa's heartbeat often becomes audible.
  • She is moved to the pen where they keep the drug mules by James, after he is impressed with her handling the airport job.1x03
  • Camila gave her a $50,000 Rolex for noticing that the bills that Lopez was paying with were fake. Teresa didn't accept the gift, saying that she owed Camila that money anyway. Camila had James put it aside for her.1x03
  • Her first solo mission for the Vargas Cartel (Texas) was a delivery to Sandra. She did not complete the other scheduled deliveries because Camila had someone else do them after what happened that day.1x04
  • For the first half of season one, Teresa drives a beaten up red car, using a screwdriver for a key.
  • Her grandmother taught her how to cook.1x04
  • She used to own the same pair of shoes that Kim has in her closet, and she wears the shoes to Eric's party.1x05
  • She believes in God.2x01
  • Guero gave her the deed to his house as a birthday present,3x06 presenting a parallel to James trying to give her the keys to his compound and leaving.3x05 
  • Teresa says that her favorite memory is running around in the dahlia fields as a child.4x04